Finding Joy At Christmas

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Dementia has changed how Jim and I experience the Christmas season. Gone are the days of spending hours on activities we always enjoyed together, such as shopping for special family presents, putting up the outdoor decorations and attending lots of holiday gatherings. Christmas is definitely quieter now, but it’s still special and often in surprising ways.

Dementia has changed how Jim and I experience the Christmas season.

For example, during the lead up to one recent Christmas I was having a hard time feeling the joy of the season. Jim and I had no plans for the big day. We would not be going to a family gathering. There would be no grandchildren around and no holiday getaway to a warm locale. Even my sister, our constant companion from Christmases past, would not be with us. I had visions of Jim and I eating hot dogs and beans on Dec. 25 as we watched a football game. As my disappointment grew, I resigned myself to the thought that not every Christmas could be a special Christmas.

Then my brother Tony called unexpectedly and asked if we would like to come to Atlanta to stay with him and his wife Jane for Christmas. It took me about two seconds to decide that this was a great idea. Yes, we would be going to Atlanta.

To my surprise, that Christmas turned out to be not only a better Christmas than I had anticipated, but it became one of the best Christmases we had ever had. And how did this happen? How did we go from having the worst Christmas to having the best Christmas? As I look back I realize that we simply were able to experience the real meaning of Christmas.

it became one of the best Christmases we had ever had

We waited until Christmas day to drive to Atlanta. There was little traffic, which made the trip easier for Jim, as we encountered no stressful situations on the road. When we got in the car, Jim sat in the back seat right behind me. I thought that was a bit odd, but Jim seemed to relax back there. We listened to Christmas music for the entire fourhour drive. Jim was so relaxed he started singing along where he could and patting my shoulder every 10 minutes or so. It was his way of saying he was happy and he loved me. As unlikely as it may sound, that long drive down Interstate 85 was truly joyous.

Jim Tony Jane Christmas BlogAs I listened to the songs, I could feel the tears as I focused on the words and their meaning. It was truly a Psalms 37:4 moment: “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” As we arrived in Atlanta, my heart was full. Christmas could have ended right there. Nothing else was needed.

But Christmas did not end here. We spent the next few days enjoying Tony and Jane’s hospitality, having lots of wonderful conversations and laughs, and sharing memories from past holidays. I also got some time alone to recharge as Tony and Jane stayed with Jim while I went on walks around their neighborhood. We all took things at a very slow pace and this allowed Jim to get comfortable with our new location and truly enjoy himself.

As we drove home on Saturday (another low traffic day) I thought about how incredibly wonderful this Christmas had been. It just confirmed what you always hear about “finding the real meaning of Christmas.” Gifts, parties and huge gatherings are nice, but they don’t bring you joy at Christmas. We had found our joy by focusing on God’s gift to man and spending time with a few loved ones. We didn’t need a crowd. We didn’t need a lot of activity. We didn’t need lots of gifts. All that we needed was to slow down, enjoy a few close relationships, and focus on what really matters – God’s goodness and neverending provision in our lives. It was a Christmas I will never forget.

We had found our joy by focusing on God’s gift to man and spending time with a few loved ones.

20 Responses

  1. Paula Baker

    Beautiful! Merry Christmas to you and Jim. You both r forever in my thoughts and prayers. Love to you both♡♡

  2. Shelby thomas

    What a beautiful story of love for each other.

  3. Clark Neilson

    Vicki: Thank you for sharing your favorite Christmas story with us this year. So intimate and full of detail and touching. I wish you and Jim another joyous Christmas this year! Blessings, Clark

  4. Vicki, such a great reminder for me to slow down this Christmas. Thank you for continuing to share your story.

  5. Thanks Vicki for this great reminder of how Christmas can be so meaningful if we intentionally slow down or even stop to let God create those memories! May God bless you and Jim this Christmas! John 1:1,14

  6. Lauren Wallin

    Absolutely beautiful, Vicki. Your message could not be more perfect. May you and Jim have another blessed Christmas this year! Thank you for sharing your journey!

  7. Vic, thank you for sharing your blog with me! I love keeping up up with you and Jim! I hope you two have a wonderful Christmas!!

  8. Vicki,
    Great report on a Christmas you will long remember. Merry Christmas to you and Jim!!! Romans 8:28

  9. David Morrison

    Vicki, Thank you for sharing from your heart. Jim and yourself are beautiful people full of the Holy Spirit !! Blessings to you both

  10. Bill Heidenreich

    Vicki, thank you for reminding me what the true meaning of this season is. Our christmas is turning out to be a different kind of Christmas for our family this year, and your Christmas story is an inspiration. I wish you and Jim another wonderful Christmas!

  11. Bill Heidenreich

    Vicki, thank you for reminding me what the true meaning of this season is. Our christmas is turning out to be a different kind of Christmas for our family this year, and your Christmas story is an inspiration. I wish you and Jim another wonderful Christmas!

  12. Linda Helikson

    Wow Vicki….so true …this entry is so beautiful. God Bless you for sharing your life with us. Merry Christmas.

  13. Brenda Stilwell

    Vicki, that is a reminder for each of us. Thanks. No, it is not about the gifts, it is all about the relationships and making those precious memories. Merry Christmas!

  14. Nancy Fisher

    Such a beautiful post! There is so much power in slowing down and really listening to the truth of God’s word in a Christmas song. You are such a loving wife and I your husband is so dear. I love how he would put his hand on your shoulder. A love tap in the midst of some changing times. May God richly bless you again this year!

  15. Vicki, Thanks so much for sharing your journey but, more importantly, your HEART. We can ALL learn from what you shared. You are such a blessing to Jim and to all of us who know you. I pray that God will bless you.both with another very special Christmas.

  16. Craig Seibert

    Vicki…. Thank you sharing your life in this way. I can imagine that drive as I have made it many times over the years, but your experience and words add a completely new perspective. May this Christmas hold another special blessing for you and Jim.

  17. Carol Mayer

    God is so gracious with His surprises. He delights in our seeing Him in “all things”. I love it when He shows up when we least expect it. Have another unexpected Christmas my precious friends. Love forever. Carol and Roxie

  18. Debbie & Dave

    Thank you for sharing! It is nice to be reminded on the importance of family. Please come see us in the new year!we may come to you😊

  19. Great to hear that you had a joyous Xmas. Spending time with family has a way of lifting your spirits and slowing down life’s challenges.

  20. In all of our travels with my mother in south India this Christmas, the most joyous to me was the simple evening at home with our family just before we left on our trip. We shared a few Christmas gifts with each other and enjoyed the excitement of the children as we listened to Christmas music. These simple moments are meant to remind us of the reality of God’s power and presence. Love you, Vicki. Thank you for sharing.

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